Launching at The Vaults in Waterloo on the 27th March 2018, An Evening of Meat is a unique and provocative dinner installation: a feast of femininity where expressive dance and indulgent food meet to thoroughly inundate all the senses. Having gained a cult following across the world, American director Kate March along with her all-female creative collective, I AM, brings her unique mixture of choreography, performance art and food to London for a limited run this Spring.
We caught up with Kate to find out more.
An Evening of Meat is coming to The Vaults, what can you tell us about it?
I can tell you that despite what some people may expect, the piece isn’t about being sexy or sexual. The concept does not sexualise the performers nor are they half naked as some media outlets like to suggest! The concept may provoke an atmosphere that champions body positivity, female sensuality and the disruption of male gaze, but it is also more than this. For me, the piece is about breaking hierarchies of power and rebuilding connection through empowerment – it’s about female strength (physical and emotional), vulnerability, boundaries, and intimate human connection. Because of the amount of improvisation, the experience evolves night to night depending on the energy and dynamic between the audience and performers. Expect the unexpected and prepare to be both playful and inspired.
Where did the inspiration come from to do something like this?
I was really exploring the range of meanings of different body postures. I’ve always been interested in conveying and disrupting how the female body in particular can be perceived and interpreted. The way I place my body may feel much different than how it is read by another person given that each individual has an array of life experience that shades their gaze. The on all fours position was a position I explored choreographically in my Masters programme (back in 2009-2010) and I still find myself investigating the many emotions, feelings, and stories this one position can embody and imply. One interpretation was that on all fours was like a table. I thought, ok, what if I placed a table on a table. It really started as neutrally and basically as that one thought.
You’ve taken this around the world, why is it important to you that it comes back to London?
The impetus to create this work and the first iteration of the concept began here almost a decade ago. This isn’t a coincidence. I look back and think how my sexuality, my body, my gender, my profession were under critical scrutiny during my time in London in my early twenties. I was truly exploring and mining what it meant to be a woman and be seen as a woman and understand my body as an instrument for art, change, sociopolitical commentary, pleasure, and unfortunately at times, unilaterally – only as a piece of meat. I look forward to bringing back the same questions, with the same themes, with a more developed understanding of what it means to be a woman and really just a human being and see whether the answers are different or if the interactions have evolved from when I and my team first began this journey.
How does the dining element work, are you a budding chef, or do you leave that to the professionals?
I wish I was a budding chef! I leave that to the professionals and truly enjoy the collaboration between the chef, staff, and the I AM team. I am a firm believer in giving the audience a format that they feel comfortable with and truly enjoy so that the performers can experiment and push the diners through performance art exchange and immersive interactions – the dinner format provides an anchor for the audience to return to if they feel like being a passive participant (which is totally fine). I also think it’s important to touch on all the senses when creating an experience like this because people take in information and meaning in so many different channels – I want to strive to reach each individual whether it’s through the visual, the taste, the smell, or the sixth sense….might as well tap into them all.
How does the food complement the performance?
I think I answered a bit of that above. I think it’s also important to add that there is some element of playing with the idea of consumption. Asking the audience to engage with a performance while they eat means they are visually consuming and sensorily consuming simultaneously. Are we all consuming the female body in the media with a particular lens on a daily basis? How do we visually consume any one’s body? Can we change the way we look at the body and see it as a complex beautiful piece of art rather than man or woman? The unique aspect of the food this time is we will be playing with not just using a literal interpretation of meat but also trying out a vegetarian dining journey. Then it really begs the question, what is the meat in this evening? And can we see a body as more than just meat? Can we see an animal as more than just a meal?
Tell us about I AM and the opportunities that has given you?
I am so grateful for a career and company that I love and feel excited about everyday. I have the most amazing team of creatives all over the world; all incredibly talented and devoted to the art of expression. I started I AM while I was living in Hong Kong (from 2010-2016). From humble beginnings of producing my own work on shoestring budgets in miniscule gallery spaces, I AM has grown into a real powerhouse of female creatives looking to elevate the beauty of performance art exchanges, the power of improvisation, and the necessity of creative expression. We perform across the world for incredibly diverse audiences and in an incredible range of contexts in places like Hong Kong, Mainland China, Singapore, the Maldives, Sydney, London, Miami, and New York. These experiences are opportunities to more profoundly understand: the nuances of culture; the common threads we all share; the power of movement; the truth in expression, and the ability of art to connect strangers in an intimate, present way. I think what we do is inherently a rebellion of convention – create art, travel around the world, live your truth, be your truth, and have fun with your colleagues – it’s a rebellious act to be a professional artist and I am proud to be a part of that group of rebels.
An Evening of Meat is at The Vaults 27th March – 22nd April 2018.